His Excellency Dr. Richard Von Weizacker, President of the Federal Republic of Germany.
THE NEW GERMANY
Chairman: Al Jameson, President, The Canadian Club of Toronto
Ladies and gentlemen, today we have the special privilege of being addressed by an individual who can provide us with an update on the historic events that are occurring in Europe.
On October 3, 1990--just two weeks from today--German unification becomes a formal reality and this historic event essentially brings to an end 45 years of a divided Europe. Our speaker today has been involved in West German politics for more than three and a half decades, having served as a member of the Bundastock, Vice President of the Bundastock, Governing Mayor of Berlin and, in his present capacity, as President of the Federal Republic of Germany--a position he has held since 1984. Ladies and gentlemen, on the occasion of his first state visit to Canada, please join me in welcoming His Excellency, Dr. Richard Von Weizacker.
Dr. Richard Von Weizacker:
Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, I'm most grateful to have this opportunity to address you as guest of The Canadian Club and The Empire Club here in Toronto. Someone who is acquainted with Canada told me, if you are invited by those two Clubs, you realty meet Canada. Thank you very much for this occasion and that great honour.
Ontario is the heart of Canada's business community. You, as leading decision-makers of Canadian life, of industrial and financial enterprises and other circles of society, follow world political and economic developments with particularly close attention and act accordingly in the light of your responsibility. For eight years running, the world economy is showing an upward trend. The OAC.D. and the International Monetary Fund have forecast a rare growth of three percent in the industrial countries, both for this year and next.
The great crises in the Persian Gulf can drastically influence these expectations. We all hope it won't, but we should not underestimate its impact, not only on oil prices and energy supply in the Western world, but also on the mood of the world economy as a whole. Nonetheless, international law and the principal of national sovereignty and freedom requires us to stand firm. Our refusal to abandon these principals stems from our deep convictions. No violator of international law, no aggressor, is to be rewarded by mild compromises. It is, moreover, in our own long-term economic interest to stick to this conviction. Regional economic disparities are becoming increasingly apparent. Whereas, in Japan and most western European countries, economic activities continue to expand, in North America it has been somewhat slowing down. Even Canada's seven years' boom may have slightly been affected as a result. The Bank of Canada's tighter interest rate policy to check inflation may also influence economic activity. On the other hand, high interest rates lead to considerable imports of capital and, at the same time, strengthen the Canadian currency in relation to the American dollar.
Owing to its geographical position, Canada is closely linked to the United States economically. Over 65 percent of your imports and nearly 75 percent of your exports are accounted for by your southern neighbour. The Free Trade Agreement with the United States established last year will increase this tendency. But Canada plays a very significant role in the world economy as shown by the fact that its external trade accounts for about 30 percent of G.N.P.
Over the last ten years, Canada's exports have increased by more than 100 percent. This is the best performance among the 10 leading trading nations. The fact that the volume of imports too increased by 112 percent during the same period demonstrates Canada's open-door trade policy. The position which Canada has taken at the World Economic Summits of the seven leading industrial nations has always reflected this country's deep sense of responsibility for the world economic and political situation.
In the international organizations, your country strongly, defends the principal of liberal unhampered world trade. It is gratifying to note that our two countries are vigorously pursuing the same objectives. Our excellent political relations are complemented by our trade relations. The Federal Republic of Germany is Canada's fourth largest export market. Last year, your country's export to the Federal Republic increased by over 20 percent, the largest growth rate in the history of Canadian/German trade relations. The volume of trade is close to 9.5 billion marks. German companies have a keen interest in the Canadian market. This is apparent, not least, from the fact that German direct investments in Canada have doubled to over 800 million deutschmarks. Canada is thus the eighth largest market for German investment.
At present, a radical transformation is taking place in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. They are changing over from Communist dictatorship to democracy. It should be in everyone's interest to integrate these embryonic market economies into the world economy as quickly and thoroughly as possible.
The fate of Eastern Europe affects us all. It would be disastrous if political shackles were to be replaced by economic shackles. In the post-war years, Canada, with an exemplary humanitarian gesture, opened its doors to thousands of people, especially from Eastern Europe, and gave them a chance to make a new beginning. The task now is to help the people in Eastern Europe build a future in their own countries. It is a task which falls in large measure to the big industrial nations. Communism has largely failed due to economic failure, but young democracies are very vulnerable, especially new young democracies. If they have the experience that going into freedom means hunger and need and poverty, that might affect deeply the new democracies.
These changes are of outstanding significance to us, to the Germans. For over 40 years, our nation had to endure an unnatural division. We all know that this division of Germany, which came about during the Cold War, would not have come about without the war started by our country. Nevertheless, it has been the task all of us fought for decades, to overcome the division of Europe and of Germany. Now, under the umbrella of that Cold War, a competition emerged between the two systems of the West and the East and, finally, the leaders of the Soviet Union found out that in order to remain competitive or to become competitive again, they had to embark upon a political and economic reform process.
To switch into democracy and market economy requires freedom and if the Soviet Union wants to accept freedom in its own nation, it also has to accept freedom among their allies. By this, we had this unforeseen dramatic role of free revolutions, of peaceful revolutions in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. And in connection with that, not only had we that free and peaceful revolution in East Germany, but also the acceptance by the Soviet Union for self-determination in Germany and thus, for re-unification for Germany. This is a very great moment in our history because, so far, we never experienced a unifying of our country with the consent of our neighbours. We have so many neighbours in Europe, more than anyone else--nine neighbours. And so far, history in Germany has always been a history of influence from Germany to its neighbours and vice-versa.
But this time, for the first time, we have really all agreed upon that process and this really changes the history both of Germany and Europe. And for the first time, I think it is fair to say that you will find a united, a unified Germany, which altogether rests on and believes in constitutional basic aims and values of the Western World.
In former times, Germany more than once tried to find some kind of third way--both in its constitutional aspect and in its foreign policy. Being situated in the middle of the continent, it tried to find a third way. But those endeavours for a third way were not very successful--neither for us, nor for the rest of Europe. And now, this time, we really are a Western country and will remain a partner both of the European community and of the Atlantic Alliance altogether. But at the same time, due to our situation and our experience and due to that process which East Germans shared with their Eastern neighbours in Poland and Czechoslovakia and Hungary, we will try to convince, time and again, our European and our Atlantic partners of that great importance of directing our activities in the direction of the whole of Europe.
Unifying Germany is not a process and not a means in itself. It only came about due to developments in Europe and it is now dedicated to the process of unifying Europe as a whole and for that purpose, I think we must come together and stay together and see to it how we can share that great task Never so far in history had Europe a chance of getting together in also an institutionalized sense. We always had nations fighting one another--nations developing into a dangerous nationalistic mood. Now, the insight is coming into the minds of all the political leaders that practically no single great task of our present and future can be solved by nations alone,--from security to environmental problems--the energy questions--the traffic--everything--our human right problems--has to be dealt with together. And for the first time after the dissolution of the former Soviet Empire, vis-a-vis its allies, we really have the chance of building up a kind of peace order in Europe together. And in order to achieve that, it is absolutely essential that we stick together not only in the Atlantic alliance but also in those organizations that have been set up together by the North American and the European countries and partners.
My impression during this visit here in Canada is that not only are you open-minded and interested in the development of Europe and Germany, but in a sense, you are ready to increase your engagement in the forthcoming development of Europe. And I think that is very essential for us if we achieve together an institutional process in the C.S.C.E. If we have more than just conferences and informal talks; if we have an institution, a common secretariat; if we have something of a conflict-managing centre managing both possibly military and political crisis, that would really be a very considerable step in the direction of a peace order in Europe. So far we only had peace orders in Europe forced upon the rest of Europe by some kind of impasse. This time we want to have a peace order in Europe established by free nations and out of agreement of those free nations. That is what we feel is our task and that is a task which I think we really share.
In order to do so, of course, we will have to overcome some problems that still exist. You have had your difficulties with the European community as far as trade policy is concerned. We, the Europeans, have to contribute to a success of the GATT agreement and we know that we don't have only to expect some concessions from the United States--we also have to contribute to this kind of success. And there are other questions which you may put at our address so that the forthcoming single-market and the European community is not becoming a fortress. It is not in order to please you, but simply to try to explain to you our interest, to say that we the Germans completely depend on open-markets. We would kill our own chances if we would agree to some kind of fortress emerging from this single market. What we want is an open market, a world market, a free world market and I think in this we really can come together with the North American nations and, especially, with Canada. But the final aim may not be just those economic ties and mutual chances. The , final aim really is to bring human rights and peace about also in a continent which has been devastated so many times by terrible wars or which has been under the rule of rather big' constraints of empires.
Why, at this time, we have been given the chance by history of establishing something new. That is the chance of our present time. That is the task of my own country uniting in the centre of Europe and that is the great task and the great subject for me while visiting your vast and so beautiful and so open-minded country. May I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your hospitality, for your open-mindedness and let us join together in making the best and responsible task of this unique chance offered to all of us by history at the present time.
Thank you very much.
The appreciation of the meeting was expressed by Harold Roberts, President of The Empire Club of Canada.
Dr. Von Weizacker, what a wonderful joy it has been for me to have lunch with you today. I believe most people today have come because they want to know how Germany feels. They want to know what is happening in Germany that can take advantage of the opportunities that are laid before that nation at this time.
A psalmist wrote, "How good it is for people to dwell together in unity." We in Canada have watched as the whole scene in Europe has changed over the last two years in total amazement and bewilderment and have wondered, "is it possible that these changes really can take place without war or economic disaster?"
As we talked at lunch, you mentioned that you're very aware of the disparity within your own forthcoming nation. But what an exciting time it is when this new math, says 4+2 will make 1, on the 3rd of October. What I think you have tried to share with us today is this good news--that this is a time for coming together, not for fragmenting. This is a time to dream for a future and not to mourn a past. This is a time for building and not tearing down and this is good news worth sharing with us in Canada. Thank you very much.